Fashion: The Little Black Dress Fit Guide

Littleblackdress

Can a gal have enough little black dresses in her closet? Depends on your outlook. They have an endless usage warranty...and if you pick the right one it can't really go out of style.  I like to keep 2 in my closet...selling or donating one every couple years in exchange for another. Trading with friends is a great idea too (and way more fun!).

However, sometimes you've gotta shop! There is actually a wide array of options for every body type. That being said, I think fashion magazines (in general) do a terrible job of giving advice on fit. How many of you are sick of comparing yourself to a pear or apple? And by the way, when did the term "boyish" become an acceptable term for a woman's shape? Are you a boy? No! How about full figured? Does that mean you have a ...um, full-on figure? I'm so tired of the boxes...so I'm going to attempt to break out of them. My categories aren't about WEIGHT...they are about SHAPE. I don't care if you are 100lbs or 200lbs, you have a shape.

It's an ATTEMPT...it won't be perfect. I'm no expert. But I do whole heartedly believe in positive body image (something I've struggled with my whole life) and working with what you've got. So let's take a stab at it...shall we ladies? Ready-set-go!

 

Flattering

Alright, so magazine fit guides usually display a "curvy" section...and then a "full-busted" section. Hmmm. What if you are both? Do you have generous hips, a little waist, and a full bust? This section is for you.

For a chic evening party, you want minimal "classy cleavage" or none at all. You want to flatter the hips, rather than poof them out. NO FULL SKIRTS ladies. Picture Joan Harris from Mad Men. You'll never see her in a full skirt like the other gals. And lastly, you want to show off your waist. Below are some key words to keep in mind. 

 

MEMORIZE THESE KEY WORDS:

Necklines: Boat Neck, Square Neck, One Shoulder, Adjustable Wrap Dress V-Neck 

Lowerhalf: Fitted, Pencil Skirt, Straight-Stretch, or Tulip

Waist: Belts, Wrap Dresses, Ruching, A-Symetrical Wrapping

Avoid: Empire Waist, Low backs (due to bra issues), Plunging necklines, Loud Prints, Sheath Cuts, Straight Cuts with no Stretch, Strapless UNLESS you have a really smart bra plan.

 

Beautiful Examples: Christina HendricksAshley GrahamSophia VergaraMarilyn Monroe (of course)

Fullbusted curvy
(left to right) 1. Nordstom $165 BUY NOW  2. Anthropologie $188 BUY NOW  3. Asos $81.81 BUY NOW  4. Nordstrom $158.00 BUY NOW

 

 

Slender curvy

Sometimes I'm jealous of these ladies because they have nice curves, but don't have to worry too much about "falling out" of their dress bust wise (a problem I'm constantly trying to avoid). I don't say "slender" as in the scale, but rather they have curves that are a little more proportionate all around. This allows them to get away with a little more wiggle room for neckline, but not so much silouette. They still have to follow some of the rules above as even a slender curvy gal can look frumpy in the wrong frock. In fact, frock is what we want to avoid. Do you ever see Selma Hayek wearing an sheath dress? I dare you to try and find her in one. DARE YOU. And yes I think Selma probably fits in this category AND the category above. Damn her ;) 

 

MEMORIZE THESE KEY WORDS:

Lucky you: Almost any neckline

 Lowerhalf: Fitted, Pencil Skirt, Straight-Stretch, Modest Full Skirt, Tulip

Waist: Belts, Ruching, Wrap Dresses, Pinned at Waist

Avoid: Extreme full-skirts, extreme plunging, very loud prints

 

Beautiful Examples: Kate WinsletHalle BerryEva MendezAva Gardener 

Picnik collage
(left to right) 1. Asos $81.81 BUY NOW 2. Jcrew $225 BUY NOW 3. Victoria's Secret $29.50 BUY NOW 4. Asos $54.54 BUY NOW

 

 

 

Fullbuststraight

These lovely ladies always look elegant to me! You fall in this category if you have a generous bust and your waist is the same width (or nearly the same width) as your hips. 

You'll want to stick with empire waist looks or dresses that pin in and then tulip out from right below your bust...creating the illusion of a cinched waist (nothin' wrong with working a little magic). If you are shaped this way, you look really great in a one shoulder look, as it will show off your shoulders drawing the eye up...and at the same time minimize your chest. Greek goddess style drapey dresses can also be very flattering on you (keeping neckline in mind). You can work with a full-skirt or a straight skirt, depending on how you feel about your hips. But you've got way more wiggle room than the groups above :)

 

MEMORIZE THESE KEY WORDS:

 Neckline: One Shoulder, Boat Neck, Adjustable Wrap Dress Neckline

 Lower-half: Full-Skirt, Straight Skirt, Draped (any really) 

 Waist: Empire, Empire to Tulip, Wrap Dress (wrapped higher)

AVOID: Strapless, Drop Waist, High Necklines


 Beautiful Examples: Queen LatifaMiranda LambertKate Dillon, X-Factor's Melanie Amaro  

Picnik collage
(left to right) 1. Nordstrom $118.00 BUY NOW 2. Nordstrom $178.00 Buy Now  3. JCPenney $49.99 BUY NOW 4. Anne Taylor $245.00 BUY NOW

 

 

 

Small

 

If you are around the same measurements from your bust, to your waist, to your hip...this category is for you. You are lucky because you are able to pull off a lot of pretty necklines that many women cannot. However if you do wish to enhance that area, there are lots of little tricks without having to buy a push-up bra (over-rated). By the way, anything designed by the late and great Coco Chanel will be your best friend. Trust me. And hey, she's the one who created the little black dress to begin with...so lucky you! 

You can wear more daring prints and daring cuts without looking frumpy because your figure allows it. So amen to all that freedom. To create the "illusion" of a fuller chest: cowl necks, ruffled and supported sweet heart neck lines will help. However if you aren't worried about that, you can TOTALLY pull of the plunging look and still be perfectly classy. I envy you that. A thick belt in the middle will create a waist...while a tulip-ed bottom will create curves.

 

MEMORIZE THESE KEY WORDS

Neckline: cowl, plunging, sweetheart, ruffled, strapless

Lower half: Tulip or any style

Waist: Thick belt, Drop Waist 

AVOID: Vertical stripes. Extremely thin materials that hang. 

 

Beautiful Examples: Audrey HepburnNatalie PortmanKeira Knightly

Sinny
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Jlo
If you are small busted, curvy or straight through the waist and then VERY curvy in your bum, hips and thighs...then this section is for you. Traditionally I supposed you have been called a pear? Weird huh? Well...

You have a lot of freedom much like the list above...with of course some guidelines. Go ahead and experiment with necklines and you can definitely rock a strapless dress. Fitted or full skirts will look great. In fact, full skirts are your friend...but always show off your waist. 

 

MEMORIZE THESE KEY WORDS:

Neckline: Sweetheart, Strapless, Cowl...really any

Lower-half: Fitted, Full-Skirt

Waist: Belts, Wrap Dresses

AVOID: Drop Waist, Overly tight skirts that will make your lower half look out of proportion. Loud patterns on lower half.

 

Beautiful Examples: First Lady Michelle ObamaJennifer LopezKelly ClarksonBeyonce

Booty

(left to right) 1. White House Black Market $228.00 BUY NOW 2. Modcloth $84.99 BUY NOW 3. Asos $54.54 BUY NOW 4. JCrew $350.00 BUY NOW

 

 

The fantastic thing about the hunt for a little black dress is...in my experience, a cut that shouldn't work for you, often will! That's the mystery and beauty of wearing black ladies and gents...or, just ladies. The above thoughts are just guidelines, there are always exceptions to the rule and of course, some of you fall in multiple categories! So happy shopping and have fun at your holiday parties. -Jenni